Imbued with the spirit of love for their mother tongue, people from different walks of life thronged Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela yesterday, marking the International Mother Language Day.
Most of them clad in black and white, with flags drawn on their cheeks and hands, entered the book fair on Bangla Academy premises and adjoining Suhrawrady Udyan as soon as the gates opened at 8am.
The crowd got bigger as the day progressed. While the number decreased a little around the afternoon, the gathering increased again in the evening.
“We paid homage at Shaheed Minar in the morning and now we're looking for a book on the Language Movement, as the new generation should be introduced to the glorious history of Ekushey February,” said Lamia Chowdhury Labonno, who brought her 12-year-old son along.
She later bought a book titled “Chotoder Bhashabir o Muktijoddha” by Asadullah from Ekattor publication for her son.
Publishers said there was a huge demand for books on the Language Movement yesterday, but they felt that the number of available titles were insufficient.
According to Bangla Academy information centre, only 11 new titles on Language Movement have been released at the fair out of 3,363 new arrivals so far.
Among these include “Banglar Lokshongskritite Bhasha Andolon o Muktijuddho” by Mamun Tarafdar from Ria Publication, “Bhasha Andoloner Kotha” by Gulshan Ara from Asia publication, and two books titled “Sirajganjer Bhasha Andolon” and “Bhasha Andolone Chhatra League” by Abdul Alim from Agami Publication.
“We were unable to publish more books on the topic due to lack of good content,” said Farid Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Gyan O Srijonshil Prokashok Samity.
He said writers who have good research skills should submit manuscripts on Language Movement to fulfil this gap. “Otherwise, new generation will not be able to learn history,” he added.
Meanwhile, in observance of National Martyrs' Day, officials and employees of the academy paid their tributes at Central Shaheed Minar at 12:30am.
A self-composed poetry recitation on Ekushey February was also held at the academy's main stage in the morning. A special event, "Amar Ekushey Speech" was held in the afternoon.
The book fair usually runs from 3pm to 9pm on weekdays, but it opened in the morning to mark Amar Ekushey. The fair will open at 11am today to observe Shishu Prahar.